BOX 7.3

Implementing the Physics of the Universe Science Plan

  • Continue theoretical investigations of models of dark energy and inflation.

  • Combine observations with LSST, WFIRST, and GSMT to measure nearby distant supernova explosions and map the expansion of the universe.

  • Use WFIRST and LSST to find traces of the residual sound waves produced in the first moments of the universe by mapping the distribution of galaxies and making an independent measurement of the rate of expansion of the universe.

  • Measure the shape distortions of distant galaxies caused by weak gravitational lensing, using WFIRST and LSST to help characterize the properties of dark energy.

  • Find and study distant clusters of galaxies to measure the rate of growth of structure in the universe using IXO and microwave background observations.

  • Complete the theoretical calculations of waveforms from merging black holes.

  • Detect bursts of gravitational radiation from merging black holes using LISA.

  • Study the epoch of inflation by measuring the imprint of gravitational radiation on the cosmic microwave background.

  • Observe x rays from gas orbiting close to the event horizon of black holes using IXO and relativistic jets produced by black holes using ACTA.

  • Gather indirect evidence using ACTA to show that dark matter comprises a new type of elementary particle by detecting the gamma rays it may emit.

NOTE: ACTA, Atmospheric CČerenkov Telescope Array; GSMT, Giant Segmented Mirror Telescope; IXO, International X-ray Observatory; LISA, Laser Interferometer Space Antenna; LSST, Large Synoptic Survey Telescope; and WFIRST, Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope.

the coming decade. However, there is much other science outlined in Chapter 2 that is also important and timely. The program of activities proposed as a result of Astro2010 also advances this larger research program, cast here as in Chapter 2 in terms of cross-cutting themes in astronomy and astrophysics research.


Anticipating research results in a rapidly changing field is demonstrably hard, and comparisons between expectations and actual scientific results are both humbling and exhilarating. For example, when the Keck Observatory, the Hubble Space Telescope, and the Spitzer Space Telescope were designed astronomers had no evidence that there were planets around nearby stars or that gamma-ray bursts were at cosmological distances. These observatories, both independently and when used together to study the same objects, have been invaluable in advancing knowledge in unpredictable directions. Astronomy is still as much based on discovery as it is on predetermined measurements.

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